Why Didn't They Shoot the German?

I was watching a World War II movie in a theater, with an Asian immigrant friend, when I learned a lesson in culture that no university could have taught better. In one battle scene, there is a cease-fire order, and a German soldier approaches the British position, under a white flag of truce. The British commander steps forward, completely vulnerable, but the Germans do not shoot. There is a brief exchange of words, as the Germans demand surrender, and the British commander declines. Both men then return to their positions, and the deadly fighting resumes. My friend in the theater leaned toward me, and quietly asked, why didn’t they shoot the German? I was both amused and horrified at the question. It was unthinkable that one would shoot a man under a white flag, so unthinkable that it was literally laughable. I actually did laugh. My answer was, they can’t shoot him; he’s under a white flag. My Asian friend was perplexed for a moment, and then got it....(Read Full Article)

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